Saturday, March 14, 2015

Top 14: Americas Exports - Round 20

Photo Rugby Rama
Despite this weekend having marked the 20th or 26 rounds in the Top 14 season the competition for places in the play-offs remains wide open. Currently the teams in the top six are all big-city sides while the remaining small-town south-western French clubs in the league are all in danger of dropping. 2013 champions Castres are six points in the relegation zone together with Lyon. These two clubs now arguably appear likely to be relegated. Heavily featured in round 20 were players from the Americas, the only World Rugby defined region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. 

Clermont 31-23 Bordeaux
The round got underway on Friday with Clermont digging deep to win at home. The central French team was without a host of players on international duty which saw Bordeaux leading at half time and heading for victory. The introduction of Brock James turned things around, however, enabling Clermont to recover and win. Starting was Canadian second-rower Jamie Cudmore while former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela started at tighthead prop for the visitors.

Toulouse 18-13 Montpellier
In the first of six Saturday matches the traditional powerhouses of France's south-west completed a home victory to rise in the competition standings. The win came despite a host of playing missing to international duty. Also unavailable was former Puma Patricio Albacete who is out of action through injury. 

Paris 21-30 Grenoble
A second consecutive home loss for Stade Français has the capital city side's campaign in doubt. With players missing to international duty the Parisians were badly outplayed at times by a team with all players at it's disposal. USA Eagles forward Scott LaValla was a replacement back-rower, playing 20 minutes from the bench. 

Bayonne 21-19 Castres
Bottom of the table Castres started very strongly against fellow relegation-threatened Bayonne. Having held a first half lead of 16-6 the 2013 champions appeared on course for a victory especially after going 19-18 ahead in the 71st minute. Bayonne, though, responded with former Puma Martín Bustos Moyano kicking the home side to victory in the final second of the match. He played fullback while Santiago Fernández was the starting fly half. Current Puma Ramiro Herrera played tighthead prop for Castres and Uruguayan Rodrigo Capó Ortega was a starting second-rower. 

La Rochelle 35-20 Oyonnax
An important home win for La Rochelle sees the bottom seed of the Top 14 this season sitting on 40 competition points, or 1.5 wins ahead of Lyon and Castres. Involved was Argentine Leandro Cedaro who is capped by Italy. Former Puma Benjamín Urdapilleta kicked four goals playing fly half for Oyonnax. Agustín Figuerola was on the bench.

Brive 36-12 Racing Métro
Like La Rochelle Brive may have secured survival following a solid home win on Saturday. With many of Racing Métro's top players missing to international duty Brive was able to take full advantage and complete what would, otherwise, be an unlikely win. Puma Tomás Lavanini played in the second-row for Racing Métro who remain in fourth position but are now ten points behind Toulon and Clermont.

Lyon 14-22 Toulon
In the final match of the round Lyon entered knowing the results of the other round 20 fixtures. A home win was therefore desperately required and with Toulon's stocks impacted by the Six Nations it loomed as an ideal opportunity for Lyon. Pumas Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Martín Hernández and Nicolás Sánchez all started for Toulon while Argentine prop Martín Castrogiovanni, who is capped by Italy, was on the bench. Sánchez kicked three goals. In losing by eight Lyon missed out on a bonus point.

#
Club
Pts
1
Toulon
61
2
Clermont
61
3
Paris
55
4
Racing Métro
51
5
Toulouse
49
6
Grenoble
47
7
Oyonnax
45
8
Bordeaux
45
9
Montpellier
43
10
Bayonne
41
11
Brive
40
12
La Rochelle
40
13
Lyon
34
14
Castres
34

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